OPINION: Mason students should take advantage of LinkedIn and its professional offerings

LinkedIn is a professionally oriented social networking site founded in December of 2002 (photo courtesy of LinkedIn/Flickr).
LinkedIn is a professionally oriented social networking site founded in December of 2002 (photo courtesy of LinkedIn/Flickr).

LinkedIn has been dubbed the professional Facebook by the Branding Muse. The business-oriented social network allows people to create professional profiles in order to connect with colleagues, classmates and employers. Job seekers use the site for employment. Employers and recruiters use the site to find potential employees. Because of the professional connections to be made, Mason students should embrace LinkedIn as a gateway to their future. The site offers career groups, profile tips and career connections. It allows for students to build professional profiles while acting as a platform for entering the world of employment.

LinkedIn offers a plethora of valuable benefits, such as:

1. Searchability. LinkedIn results appear at the top of a typical Google search. It makes being found by potential employers and recruiters easier. This tool works well for Mason students utilizing search engine optimization techniques. This allows them to project the image they wish to promote.  

2. Connections. Often times, job opportunities are mentioned through word of mouth. Frequently, the difference between finding and not finding potential employment comes down to how many people you know. In some situations, the people we know determine which opportunities we are offered. Without these people, the path toward success can be lonely. In addition, it creates a network in which everyone is able to inform their friends of job openings.  

3. Presentation. There is an increased incentive to have a polished personal presentation. Embarrassing photos and moments usually have no place in professional settings. To set the right tone, experts suggest only posting individual photos with professional attire. Do not include any group, cartoon or casual photos. The purpose of being on LinkedIn is to be professional – so be the professional you want your potential employer to see.

4. Professional Groups. These professional groups offer an abundance of information, mainly from working professionals. They know the common mistakes of college students. They know what it takes to be promoted, so why not learn from them? Mason students can gain insight on workplace issues and life after college. These groups make it possible to form connections that extend beyond group discussions.  The best LinkedIn groups to join are the GMU Professional Network, student or recent graduate networks and career field-related networks.

5. Summary. A summary allows a profile to have some personality. It should include a mix of personality, skill sets and work related experience. Still, the right balance must be struck to maintain a professional tone and a summary full of life.

6. LinkedIn Today: LinkedIn offers career related articles with up to date information. Some articles provide advice for entering a competitive career field like public relations. Others even address the challenges college students face after they graduate. It is important to read these articles so as to be informed of the impending job market after graduation.

The opportunities on LinkedIn are unlimited. The site has become the go-to pathway to future employment. It encourages students to examine their choice in a more career-oriented way. Based on a recent survey, College Recruiter found more recruiters on LinkedIn looking for potential employees than they found on Facebook and Twitter. These are all things to consider while thinking about starting a LinkedIn account. Properly setting up and maintaining a professional presence on LinkedIn could be the difference for Mason students—and for any potential employee—in finding a secure job, or remaining unemployed.

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